written by Kyle Messick

Here’s what I’ve been jamming over the last week, descriptions below!

Molder – Engrossed in Decay (2022). Anyone that isn’t already on the Molder hype train is missing out. This is the new sophomore album from the Illinois-based band, which continues their trajectory of mid-paced, groovy death metal that nods heavily to 90s influences like Death. After the fade-in intro I immediately noticed how well the bass cuts through the mix, which is always a huge plus for me. The vocals here are stylistically much like Martin van Drunen. Starting with the second track, the band utilizes some of their most dynamic riffs to date. Pair the new onslaught of riffs with some stellar drumming and Molder have really locked into something special. It’s so refreshing too that the songs all have their own identity, instead of being yet another album that all blends together. It’s sure to be one of the most memorable albums of the year.

War Master – Pyramid of the Necropolis (2011). I have very fond memories of watching the Bolt Thrower-worshipping War Master from Texas live. It was a basement show, which are always crammed, rowdy, and forces bands and fans to share an intimate space. One bummer about living in South Carolina now is that basement shows don’t exist, since homes don’t have basements because the land is at sea level. If you’ve never heard them, this is some great aggressive, groovy death metal. It’s like caveman Bolt Thrower with vocals that are more Mikael Akerfeldt and less Karl Willetts.

Hyonblud – Promo 2006 (2006). I’ve got Hyonblud’s debut full length too, but it doesn’t have the magic of this first promo. It’s raw, has some nasty vocals, and just feels much more frantic and aggressive. It’s some of the best brutal death I’ve heard from China.

Thanatos – Emerging from the Netherworld (1990). Thanatos are a classic early death metal band out of the Netherlands that only recently split up. They originally formed in 1984, and then they dropped this debut in 1990. As one might expect from the year, the sound is very proto-death in that it’s in the spot between heavy thrash and early death metal.

Discharge by Death – Discharge by Death (2010). People love an album with a mythology behind it, and the only album by this Texan BDM band certainly has that. Two of the three members of this band are serving life sentences for murdering a pedophile. The album was recorded in prison, and the band name refers to what is put on the discharge papers when a prisoner dies in prison. The album includes artwork by the band members, and plenty of nods to what life in prison is like. Although the band includes thank you lists, they also include a f@!k you list, which includes prison guards, the district attorney, and the name of an individual that ‘ratted’ on the band at one point, among others. It’s pretty heavy stuff (both the music and the story behind it). Member “Torch” has also kept active by creating art from prison for many bands, including Lividity, Deteriorot, Ingurgitate, Severance, and Supreme Pain. Musically, it’s killer brutal death – literally, in this instance.

Corpse Cook – Hell is Empty, and All the Devils are Here (2014). The only full length from Corpse Cook from China is technical brutal death metal with an engaging vocal performance from frontman Liu Jiaze. Liu uses over three vocal techniques, including traditional gutturals, squeels, and a higher-pitched howl. Musically it’s frantic brutal death, with riffs that never outstay their welcome, and plenty of them jammed into each song. There are solos and plenty of crushing moments too.

Corpulate – Boundless Expansion (2007). Corpulate were a weird, grindy technical brutal death metal band out of Ohio. This was their only full length, which feels all over the place with its frequent stop-starts, tempo changes, and unorthodox riff pairings. It’s a pretty wild and original album that deserves more love.

Needlepusher – Abyssal Internment (2021). If Malignancy was a slam band, they might sound like Needlepusher from New York. The first demo from the band has the quirkiness of newer bands like Thætas, which makes sense since the bands share two members, but they’re still very much their own thing. If you like your brutal death weird and slammy, then there’s a lot of fun to have with this demo.

Infestment – Evulsion of Mortal Birth (2021). Infestment is basically a solo project from Justin Stubbs of Encoffination. It often feels a little rough, like at any point the whole thing will fall apart, but there’s charm in that. It feels heavily inspired by early Cannibal Corpse. The session drummer here is Wayne Sarantopoulos, the mastermind behind Conjureth and the drummer from Encoffination. Strangely the drums here often feel rough and out of time with the riffs. There’s a lot of potential here for something cool, but hopefully on the next release will have more work go into tightening up the songs before recording them. It’s not just loose; it’s sloppy.

Abysmalist – Vile Possession (2022). This is a newer band out of California that plays solid, 90’s worshipping groovy death metal. The production here is crisp, but still raw enough not feel over-polished. It feels doomier in parts, but the production helps them avoid the trappings of a more cavernous sound. It’s also clear who some of their references are, as shown by one of the main riffs in The Redeemer that is nearly plagiarized from Carcass, however, outside of some specific riffs, Abysmalist don’t sound like any particular band, but that’s also their downside, they don’t seem to have their own identity yet. They are clearly a band that loves death metal, but they don’t yet have an element that makes them stand out from other death metal. It’s still a good album, and I look forward to hearing where they go from here.

Ritual of Decay – Eden Eviscerated (2021). If Bolt Thrower songs were about animal liberation, then they might sound like Ritual of Decay from Arizona. This is a compilation of their works so far, which is some great mid-paced groovy death metal. They really hit those chugging riffs hard, which makes for plenty of heavy moments. The subject matter is heavy, but of course that’s perfect for death metal.

Cryptic Hatred – Nocturnal Sickness (2022). Cryptic Hatred are from Finland but there isn’t any distinguishably Finnish influencing their sound. Rather, it feels to me like it bridges the gap between American and Swedish death metal styles. This is their debut album, which at the time of recording it, the band were all teenagers. The production is kind of weird and muffled, but that adds some atmosphere to it. It’s mostly mid-paced death without the tempo changing much across over the course of the album. Overall it’s a solid debut from some promising, upcoming young musicians, but I hope that their next release takes more chances and gets a little more adventurous.

Byatis – In Dark Abysses Of Memory (2003). Here’s another unorthodox brutal death metal band, but this one is from France. This was the only album they released before splitting up, but it’s a great jam. The compositions are well thought out, and I love the unusual early CGI album cover. It’s plenty brutal, but it has a lot of great tremolo riffs and even some gallops in there too. It’s an underrated gem.

Massacred – Human Extermination (2022). Resident Evil-themed Mortician worship? It’s more likely than you think. Massacred from Argentina is a solo project that isn’t subtle about who its influences are. Everything from their logo, short songs, vocals, and drum programming are a nod to Mortician. But is it any good? Yes, it rules and it’s better than some Mortician albums, and the Resident Evil theme is a lot of fun. Grab it now from Corpse Gristle!

Devastation – Dispensible Bloodshed (1986-1987). Devastation were a sick early death-thrash band from Chicago. This is heavy, raw classic thrash with plenty of sick riffs and catchy, well-enunciated vocals. This is the 2008 reissue of the album, which also included their two 1986 demos and a bunch of live tracks spanning three discs. The new cover artwork is goofy but the tunes are sick. Strangely the vocals are the most death metal on their earliest demo, A Creation of Ripping Death from 1986. They had a different vocalist on this recording, whose vocals were plenty wet, guttural, and powerful. It’s mind-blowing to hear someone that guttural in 1986. It’s my favorite of their releases largely for how sick those vocals are, but all of their releases are great. This was way ahead of its time.